previous next


Διδώ), also called Elissa, the reputed founder of Carthage. She was a daughter of a Tyrian king, Belus, Agenor, or Mutgo, and sister of Pygmalion, who succeeded to the crown after the death of his father. Dido was married to her wealthy uncle, Acerbas or Sichaeus, who was murdered by Pygmalion. Upon this, Dido secretly sailed from Tyre with his treasures, accompanied by some noble Tyrians, and passed over to Africa. Here she purchased as much land as might be enclosed with the hide of a bull, but she ordered the hide to be cut up into the thinnest possible strips, and with them she surrounded a spot on which she built a citadel called Byrsa (from βύρσα, “bull's-hide”). Around this fort the city of Carthage arose and soon became a powerful and flourishing place. The neighbouring king, Hiarbas, jealous of the prosperity of the new city, demanded the hand of Dido in marriage, threatening Carthage with war in case of refusal. Dido had vowed eternal fidelity to her late husband; but seeing that the Carthaginians expected her to comply with the demands of Hiarbas, she pretended to yield to their wishes, and under pretence of soothing the manes of Acerbas by expiatory sacrifices she erected a funeral pile, on which she stabbed herself in presence of her people. After her death she was worshipped by the Carthaginians as a divinity. Vergil has inserted in his Aeneid the legend of Dido, with various modifications. According to the common chronology, there was an interval of more than 300 years between the capture of Troy (B.C. 1184) and the foundation of Carthage (B.C. 853); but Vergil, nevertheless, makes Dido a contemporary of Aeneas, with whom she falls in love on his arrival in Africa. When Aeneas hastened to seek the new home which the gods had promised him, Dido, in despair, destroyed herself on a funeral pile. She was worshipped at Carthage and may be identified with Iuno Caelestis, the Roman representative of the Phœnician Astarté. See Verg. Aen. bks. i.-iv. and vi.; and the article Aeneas.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: